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5 Tips for Fundraising Managers when using direct mail

Direct mail is widely used by fundraising managers and it can be an excellent way to increase donations to a charity. Direct mail expert, Kristian Harrington from The Mailing People, shares 5 invaluable tips to make direct mailing work for you.

1. Make it personal

It may sound obvious, but if you’re asking someone to donate, or to increase their existing donation, you need to address them personally. You’re asking someone for money after all, and being personal shows respect and that you really do value their individual contribution.

When you’re addressing someone personally, you must make sure that you have their correct information in order to get the message spot on. Talk to the person as a real individual. I donate to a few charities that have asked me for an increased or a one off donation, but the request, including the copywriting, isn’t always engaging. It feels as if they are addressing me the same as everyone else. That kind of communication doesn’t work.

Most charities have heaps of data from previous donations and other sources: use it to your advantage. The power of personalisation is immense.

Still not sure? Try splitting the mailing into test packs. That way you will know what gives you the better response.

2. Know your audience with clean data

Is your data up to date? When was the last time you had it checked for movers and gone-aways, or worse still, deceased?

Every good mailing house should offer you a free data audit and provide you with the information and costs to enable you to make the commercial decision of whether to go for data cleansing.

My long experience of working with data audits has shown me that the cost of data cleansing is neutral and, 9 times out of 10, will actually save you money. How? Because clean data means that you’re not paying for print, fulfilment and post unnecessarily.

Most customers are shocked by how quickly their data goes out of date. According to Royal Mail, around 4,900 people across the UK set up a mail redirection every day. By having your data cleaned, you not only save money on redundant mail outs, but the trace facility allows you to keep in touch with a large percentage of those all-important supporters.

So next time you book a mailing, ask for the free data audit – you’ve got nothing to lose!

3. Timing is everything

When it comes to creating a successful direct mail campaign for charities and fundraisers, timing is everything. Delivering your message at the right time is crucial for the best response.

But how do you know what the right time is?

Luckily, there are many resources available to check for you and find out the best possible time for your direct marketing to hit, depending on the demographic of the people that your charity is targeting.

Why not split your next direct mailing to land with prospects on different days and measure which gives you the best response?

4. Keep postage costs down

You’re fundraising to create revenue to fulfil your charity’s aims, so it goes without saying that the less you pay on postage, the more you can direct to funding your core charity work.

Postage costs are usually the most expensive part of any direct mail project but, there are certain things you can do to keep them down. And it’s all about finding the magic number. Here’s how it works:

  • Keep that pack weight under 100g! Costs above this weight bracket start to increase quickly and can end up eating massively into your budget.
  • Quantity: 4,000 is the magic number to start reaping the rewards of postage discounts. For example, if you mail under 4,000 items, the cost can be around 35p per unit. Once you hit 4,000, that cost can drop right down to around 22p per unit. Crunching the numbers, this means that it’s cheaper to mail 4,000 items than it is to mail 2,600.

5. Talk to your mailing house!

Again – it may sound obvious that you should talk with the direct mail experts who are managing your fundraising direct mail, but it’s surprising how many people don’t.

While most fundraising managers will take time to talk with the agency that works on appealing design and catchy copy, few people actually talk to their mailing house at the creative stage. All too often, a design agency will produce some great ideas that in reality can be cost prohibitive.

Bearing in mind that most mailing houses will have worked on many fundraising campaigns, they will often be full of useful ideas, such as:

  • Things to avoid
  • How to keep the pack weight down
  • How to add variable personalisation without impacting on the fulfilment costs

That’s just three points from a stack load of useful information that your mailing house can give you. So why not pick up the phone and talk to them? Invite them along to join a brainstorming meeting with the design team. It might be just be the best decision you have ever made, getting you the best possible results from your fundraising direct mail.

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